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'One is unacceptable' - Concern over hundreds of cases of violence against staff in schools

PUBLISHED: 08:55 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:55 17 July 2019

Conservative county councillor Brian Long has raised concern about the number of incidents of violence against school staff Picture: Ian Burt

Conservative county councillor Brian Long has raised concern about the number of incidents of violence against school staff Picture: Ian Burt

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Staff at council workplaces faced abuse more than once a day last year, on average - with teachers receiving the vast majority.

Bev Spratt, Conservative county councillor for West Depwade. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Bev Spratt, Conservative county councillor for West Depwade. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

In the financial year just gone, 369 incidents of violence were reported in Norfolk County Council workplaces, the majority of which took place in schools.

And while the figure has not risen year on year, it is identical to that of the previous year, prompting queries from councillors.

Brian Long, Conservative county councillor for the Fincham division, said: "The number of incidents of violence against staff is concerning. One incident is unacceptable, so 369 is quite a worrying figure."

A report to the council's corporate select committee indicated that the majority of incidents related to children with highly complex behavioural and educational needs.

Mr Long added: "I know some children have complex needs, but the safety of staff must be paramount, so we need as robust measures as possible."

Derryth Wright, the council's health, safety and wellbeing manager, however, said the council had an ongoing project geared at addressing the issue.

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She said: "I should point out that these incidents range from everything from verbal abuse to the more serious acts of physical violence.

"We are never going to be able to prevent every issue but we can ensure we are doing all we can to make sure staff are appropriately trained and supported in dealing with them."

The project includes providing additional training to school staff and learning from previous incidents to de-escalate incidents.

Mr Long added: "I feel we must be aspiring towards there being zero incidents of this.

"Our staff working on the front line need every bit of support we can possibly give them."

Beverley Spratt, Conservative councillor for West Depwade, added: "In my day education was respected and discipline was expected."

However Ms Wright added: "There is training available for all members of staff in schools relating to how to de-escalate these situations.

"Part of our job is to ensure the right staff have been given the right training to do this.

"Part of the learning process is to take any lesson we can from previous incidents."

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